Hundred Days is a video game that we undoubtedly recommend tasting: developed by Broken Arms Games, it is available now on PC and Google Stadia.
After facing the challenges of rice cultivation in the review of Sakuna: of Rice and Ruin, the time has come for the writer to put their Piedmontese origins to the test again: the goal? Create a perfect wine! To propose this challenge with effectiveness and originality, it could only be a local development team: directly from the province of Alessandria, Broken Arms Games invites the public to discovery of the winemaking tradition, for a journey to be made in small sips, along the slopes of the splendid hills of the Langhe.
The origins of Hundred Days are intertwined with the experience of the small Italian software house, which to realize its management with a wine theme was able to count – in addition to the direct experience of one of the founding members – also on the immense network of small and large producers active in its territory. The wine-growing landscapes of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, represent an Italian excellence as much naturalistic as it is productive. So prepare the tasting glass for a fun and well packaged play experience: Hundred Days is now available on PC (Street Steam, Epic Games Store is GOG) – where we tested it – and Google Stadia.
Has the wine run out?
The best way to get closer to Hundred Days is definitely there Story mode, aimed at introducing newbies to the world of winemaking. The latter puts us in the shoes of a decidedly lucky young woman who, from being employed in a gloomy London office, suddenly finds herself the heiress of a winery near Alba.
After moving to the Langhe, the girl has to learn as much as possible about the cultivation of vines, grape fermentation, wine aging and much, much more. The goal can only be one: to transform the farmhouse into an excellence not only local, but international, capable of exporting Piedmontese nectar all over the world.
With no experience but no will, our Londoner soon finds herself surrounded by friends, expert advisors and renowned restaurateurs, all ready to assist her in this challenging adventure. Between light and relaxed tones, Hundred Days proposes a simple but pleasant narrative, functional to the presentation of the essential mechanics of the title.
Introducing the player to the world of winemaking is a screen in pastel tones, which recreates the Langhe countryside with a stylized and nostalgic aesthetic. Right from the start, the game board is dominated by a filing cabinet, graphic representation of the actions that can be performed in a whole day. Whether it is planting vines, bottling wine or repairing a machine, each production process translates into a sort of paper-action on the screen. Discarded on the playing field, this converts into a tetromino, which must be carefully placed on the board.
As easily understood, optimizing the space at your disposal is essential, so as to be able to perform multiple actions at the same time. However, the operation is capable of turning out to be more complex than it might seem at first sight. Initially, our dashboard is for example very small, therefore able to accommodate a rather limited number of combinations.
To complicate matters, the more complex procedures, such as wine aging or fermentation, take care of more days to complete. The harvest, for example, will occupy almost all of the initial space for three game turns.
The unexpected is then constantly lurking, with the bad habit of presenting themselves in the form of rather complex tetrominoes to be set up with one’s colleagues. The sudden breakdown of a press, the need to clean up a tank or to operate an urgent treatment to counteract a vines parasite are all actions that oblige the Hundred Days player to set priorities and make choices. The passing of the days, regulated in full autonomy by the player, also brings with it the changing of the seasons, the indispensable arbiter of the winemaking process.
Consequently, do not think, for example, that you can postpone the harvest until winter or that you can neglect the spring pruning operations. In the first case you would find yourself losing the harvest, in the second with a neglected field that needs a special recovery.
White or red? Both!
Initially, the Story Mode of Hundred Days will see us engaged solely in the production of Barbera, but the latter is not the only option available. Alongside it, we find in fact three types of white wine, namely Chardonnay, Arneis is Courteous, as well as two further red wines: the Trick and His Majesty the Nebbiolo. Each vine takes root and grows more easily on specific types of soil, which is why we will soon be called to expand our possessions in favor of greater production eclecticism.
But not only that: every choice made in the wine production chain will affect the final quality of our wine, with each vintage that will be assigned a vote in cents. Dedicating yourself to the search for the perfect formula is after all the key element of the experience proposed by Hundred Days. The first attempts – just like in reality – will hardly bring a product of great value to the table, but, persevering, the results will not fail to manifest themselves. And, frankly, when we created excellent nectars – strictly with a customized bottle and brand -, the title managed to arouse a sincere feeling of satisfaction!
Between yeasts to be used in the fermentation process, quality of machinery, bacteria, aging period and more, it is easy to understand how the variables to be managed are decidedly numerous. Some of these are presented in detail within the Story Mode, but the understanding of the dynamics that govern many others will instead be entrusted to the experiments of the individual user. The Hundred Days campaign actually ends too abruptly, where there would indeed have been room for a further continuation. Instead, entertaining aspiring winemakers for only a few hours, the modality invites them to learn the remaining information directly in the field.
A choice that on the one hand conveys a feeling of bewilderment, but on the other teases the resourcefulness of the public, inviting him not to be intimidated or discouraged by the inevitable mistakes that will arise in the learning process.
Juggling the menus related to the cellar, tool shed and warehouse can be complex at first, but don’t be discouraged: in a short time, the menus of Hundred Days will reveal all their secrets. Some aspects, such as customer management, the purchase of additional land or the release of new vines, are remarkably intuitive. On the contrary, other dynamics, such as the expansion of the marketing department, are instead more cumbersome to learn independently. Given these considerations, a broader and more articulated Story Mode or, alternatively, a summary section or a more structured in-game guide would certainly have benefited the management system. However, the lack is not insurmountable: by freely exploring the game menus with a healthy dose of curiosity and fearlessly testing what you have learned in the countryside, it will be possible to refine your winemaking technique in a relatively short time. To test every mechanic part of Hundred Days in freedom, the Infinite Mode of the game is certainly the best choice: without time constraints or precise objectives, ambition and creativity are here the main engines of the development of your company.
Queens and Kings of wine
Once familiar with the considerable amount of information and variables that is hidden among the virtual hills of the Langhe, the entrepreneurs of Hundred Days are ready to become true wine artists in the Challenge Mode of the game. The latter in fact allows you to test yourself with challenging goals, to be achieved within a maximum number of shifts.
For example, it is possible to specialize exclusively in the production of reds or whites, to create vintages capable of winning star ratings by sommeliers from all over the world. Or you can choose to increase the reputation of your company by dedicating yourself to the most demanding customers. In this case, the focus of our business will be the so-called “special orders”, or orders that require you to experiment with production dynamics in order to obtain particular nectars.
Is it possible, for example, to obtain a particularly sweet Barbera without compromising on quality? Can a red be full-bodied even without aging processes? Achieving these results will require you to master every secret of the Langhe producers to perfection. Faced with more complex objectives however, there will be more or less daily difficulties.
Cleaning and maintenance of machinery will be on the agenda, but nature may also decide to turn its back on us. Dangerous pests could reduce the quality of the harvest, while climate change could also give us a hand, with violent hailstorms capable of devastating our precious vineyards. Finally, let’s not forget the need to keep the company’s accounts in order: exceeding our spending possibilities by even a few thousand euros could inevitably lead us to ruin. To make the most of our resources, we may decide to follow market trends: periodically, the changing tastes of the public could in fact allow us to sell our products at a higher price than usual. Nice additions in terms of realism and variety, these dynamics contribute to increasing the pressure on the player, defusing the risk of an excessive repetition of the experience.